Co-op News

Powering connections

May 2023

Cooperative Broadband Coalition (CBC) reaches 100,000-subscriber milestone

100K subscribers servedRural broadband is a game changer, and rural electric cooperatives know that too well. The Cooperative Broadband Coalition (CBC) unites 10 distribution electric cooperatives with fiber subsidiaries in the state of Oklahoma. Collectively, these cooperatives have reached the milestone of connecting 100,000-plus subscribers in rural areas, a significant investment in the quality of life for rural Oklahomans and the statewide economy.

“The cooperative business model is uniquely suited to provide this essential service,” says Hunter Robinson, chair of the CBC and CEO of Central Rural Electric Cooperative based in Stillwater, Oklahoma. “More than 80 years ago, co-ops brought electricity to areas that were left in dark. We stand on a legacy of bringing service to the unserved and underserved; it’s in our DNA. Co-ops will be here for the next 80-plus years to come, serving Oklahomans with the best possible service.”

Co-op broadband customers have access to the latest and most advanced technology, enjoying the benefits of fiber broadband with at least 1 gigabyte symmetrical speed and consistently high customer satisfaction rates.

Co-op fiber subsidiaries are experiencing adoption rates as high as 52%, far exceeding industry averages. These subsidiaries are bringing reliable, high-speed internet not only to residences across rural Oklahoma but to county offices, city offices, small businesses, farming operations, health organizations, public schools and educational institutions.

“Everyone (in education)—teachers, staff and students—is dependent on quality internet access and devices. Education would look very different without it,” says Ryan Swank, assistant superintendent for Westville Public Schools. “Our school district has been doing business with BOLT [subsidiary of Northeast Oklahoma Electric Cooperative] for many years. They have always been there if we need anything at our school. I would give them the highest recommendation.”

Customers receiving high-speed internet from CBC members enjoy exceptional quality of service. The care and attention to detail is inherent of the cooperative difference, which makes the electric cooperative business model stand out. With this legacy, co-op fiber subsidiaries are committed to speed, service and support, going places where others don’t go. They have gone the extra mile to provide electricity and they’re going the extra mile again to provide fiber broadband service, currently connecting over 2,000 subscribers a month.

“Providing rural broadband is an extension of the cooperatives’ mission to work toward quality-of-life improvements in rural areas of the state,” says Chris Meyers, general manager of the Oklahoma Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Rural communities deserve the same opportunity as their urban neighbors, and broadband is a key component of bridging the digital divide.”

With this milestone, co-ops remain committed to expanding their network, improving services and making broadband more accessible to customers across the state.

map showing Oklahoma cooperatives offering fiber internet
Participating Oklahoma cooperatives offering fiber in their service territories

Editor’s Note: While some co-ops have been able to successfully offer fiber broadband service, this capital-intensive endeavor may not be feasible for every distribution electric co-op in Oklahoma. Every electric co-op is independent and autonomous, and they have different circumstances in their unique service territories. In some cases, fiber services may not make economic sense for a co-op in a way that would benefit all members equitably. When feasible, electric co-ops collaborate and partner with other providers to facilitate this essential service in their service areas.

Categories: Co-op NewsTech

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